Part two of a two-part series
Manhasset High School has announced its valedictorian is Ryan Chung and salutatorian is Alex Mazer. The students both received admission to the Ivy halls; Chung will go off to Harvard University in the fall and Mazer decided to take a different path and accept the Moorehead-Cain Scholar Program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The program pays full tuition and all expenses and provides amazing experiences.
Tell us about yourself.
I am the youngest of three children. My brother is 27 and my sister is 29. My family moved to Manhasset for me and I was enrolled at Shelter Rock Elementary School.
How did you feel about being named salutatorian for the Class of 2018?
It was a tremendous honor finding out the news. I believe this award is a testament to the incredibly driven group of students I am fortunate enough to be able to attend school with. They create a contagious atmosphere where commitment and dedication has become the norm, and it truly motivates me to push myself past my own limits. This achievement is a culmination of countless sleepless nights and will serve as a reminder to myself that when I truly set my mind on something, I can accomplish it.
What college are you planning to attend and what do you think you will pursue as a major?
I am planning to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a part of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Program.
What clubs and activities are you a part of at Manhasset High School?
At Manhasset High School, I am the president of the National Honor Society. This year, I initiated my own “Teacher-In-A-Turkey” Thanksgiving Drive. I loved this initiative because it created a fun way for students to give back and help those in need. Students were able to bid on which teacher they would most like to see in a turkey costume, and the top male and female recipients came to school the day before Thanksgiving adorning the absurd bird suit. In just three short days of this pilot drive, we were able to raise close to $1,000, and all of the proceeds went directly to Island Harvest. It was truly special to see the entire school rally together as one, especially on a holiday synonymous with family and friendship.
I am also the captain of the Manhasset Mock Trial Team, where I became the youngest captain in school history after being appointed at the end of my freshman year. In my four years, I have helped lead the team to two school-record finishes at the New York State Bar Association Mock Trial Tournament.
I am the vice president of the Feminism Club, where I place a special emphasis on trying to combat the stigma surrounding straight males associating as feminists.
Lastly, I am also the Editor-In-Chief of Manhasset High School’s online newspaper Indian Ink, and captain of the school’s respective Varsity Track and Cross-Country teams.
Is there an event that changed your life?
One moment that I believed shaped me was when I was attending the Millrose Games with my track team during my junior year. This professional meet is an annual team event for us, and I was just planning to enjoy the races with my best friends like a normal spectator. Except, once I saw on my phone that Stanford’s Olivia Baker (NCAA Silver Medalist) was competing in the 800m, I briefly excused myself to “use the restroom” and on the way I dropped by the warmup area with the longshot hope of maybe running into her. Baker was right there, on the opposite end of the velvet rope. I saw my shot, and I seized it. I slipped under the velvet rope and introduced myself as a reporter from SB Nation’s Rule of Tree, and the moment I mentioned my name, I saw her eyes light up a bit: she recognized it. I then continued by asking if I could interview her, although I had never conducted an interview before nor did I have any professional equipment. I knew I could not let this opportunity slip, so I took out my phone and turned on the recorder and improvised questions as I went along.
This experience was incredibly humbling for me because I was able to see the respect for my work, regardless of my age. Baker was shocked to find out that I was just a high school student, but events like these constantly remind me of what I am capable of when I am passionate about something, and will serve as a major foundation for me as a I continue to pursue my interests at UNC.
What are your interests outside of school?
I am a ride-or-die sports fan. That’s my life.
When I was 12, I decided to create a fan-page for the Brooklyn Nets on Instagram, purely out of my love for the team. Looking for ways to improve the quality of my content, I would spend days watching Youtube to teach myself how to use professional Adobe software like Photoshop and Illustrator for photos and I signed up for one-to-one sessions at Apple to learn video editing with programs like Final Cut, to the point where I had to venture outside of our Manhasset location because they did not have staff experienced enough to teach as much I wanted to learn with the program.
Each morning on my bus rides to school, I would type out full-length game previews; each day during school I was prepared to ask to use the bathroom so that I could post breaking news from the hallway—I never missed a beat—and each night I would provide timely game coverage, constantly interacting with fans. My page quickly grew to 30,000 followers, and I seized the opportunity to expand. I taught myself how to code my own online store, and I launched a fully self-designed T-shirt line for fans to purchase Nets apparel. Additionally, I collaborated with London-based artist Amar Stewart to provide fans with original Nets artwork.
Eventually, the team reached out to me to work together to organize game outings for my fans. I designed a package where close to 100 fans would come together at games, all sporting my self-designed t-shirts, and would be provided with exclusive opportunities to meet the players, appear on the jumbotron, and take a shot on the court after the game.
The most meaningful aspect of that entire experience for me were those moments of finally meeting my fans at the games because up until that point, they had no clue who was on the other end of that phone screen of theirs.
A fortunate byproduct of today’s modern age of technology is that its inherent anonymity facilitates a meritocracy whereby only the qualified are rewarded. All start out equal, regardless of his or her age—including me, at 12 years old. Hidden behind my computer screen, my reputation remained crafted solely by my body of work.
I ultimately decided to venture out into journalism, using my past experiences as a springboard. I began writing for The Brooklyn Game, where my work was predominately covering the Nets and Fantasy Basketball. I then transitioned to writing for Stanford University’s Track and Gymnastics teams at SB Nation’s Rule of Tree, as well as for the Yankees at TIME Magazine’s FanSided Network. My work has been featured on sites like Bleacher Report, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated.
Additionally, I have hosted my own weekly live sports broadcast directly out of my bedroom for a site called Meet&Greet, where 20 percent of all proceeds I earned went towards 10,000 Degrees, a charity designed to help fund college tuition for underprivileged students.
Do you have a mentor?
Christopher Keen, he was my teacher in freshman year and made me thinl of things analytically. His recommendation about my curriculum and what class I should take changed my high school career.
What other awards have you received?
This past spring, my team was a NYS finalist in the National Economics Challenge.
Academically, I am an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Merit Commended Scholar.
In track, I was the Division Champ in the 400m this spring, All-Conference in the 600m and 4*400m relay in the winter, and All-Division in the 400m in spring of 2017. I am a four-time national qualifier and two-time school record holder.
In the Summer of 2016, I was selected to attend the NYS Bar Association’s Mock Trial Summer Institute.